By Deriq Bernard | Malaya
JUDGING from a social media voices of the 2016 elections, those who elicited not to register back then were turned off by the tedious process of registration, which for some entailed going back and forth to procure and present documents to the registration officer.
Last week Impact Hub Manila (IHM), in partnership with the Philippines’ Commission on Elections (COMELEC), upgraded its voter education site Vote Pilipinas to include a Voter Registration Service Test. The new feature provides additional information users need to know to register–by preparing them with all the documents they need to enable a hassle-free registration.
Vote Pilipinas is the official Voter Registration Information campaign partner of the COMELEC and showcases easily-digestible information on the registration process, voting precincts, requirements, and important dates to remember.
Though the online service does not allow them to register–a process that is still cumbersome requiring lining up and waiting for processes to happen–it takes away some of the pain in registration and encourages them to vote.
“Voter registration is a pain. Whether it is a new registration or a renewing one, the document-based evidence gathering and presenting part of the registration takes a lot of tolls on time and on nerves,” says May R., a student who just turned 18 in the last voter’s registration.
“I moved to Laguna from Albay and the process of registration was very tedious and long, requiring some documents from my barangay to be sent to me to prove that I am not a flying voter but a new resident,” relates Belen D., a businesswoman who moved to San Pedro in Laguna after getting married.
Data from the COMELEC show that in 2019, only 75.9 percent of registered voters turned up to cast their votes, or about 1 in every four registered voters did not participate in voting. Come 2022, more young people will be eligible to vote. Through Vote Pilipinas, IHM aims to encourage 7 million more Filipinos to register.
Though Vote Pilipinas’ Voter Registration Service Test does not register the voter, it does provide users additional information such as 1) the nearest Office of the Election Officer office to contact, 2) a list of IDs to bring, 3) forms to download, and 4) other important reminders to reduce the time spent at Commission on Elections (COMELEC) headquarters during on-ground registration.
“During this moment of pandemic, the government should think of ways to digitalize the registration process with enough security to ensure data is intact and cannot be disturbed and privacy is ensured,” Emmy B., a call center agent from Batangas said. During a data breach of the Comelec database in March 2016, her name was one of those illegally exposed. The incident however did not deter her from voting.
Started in August 2020, the campaign aims to increase the number of voter registration and election turnout in time for the next national elections.
“We are thrilled for Filipino people to utilize and take advantage of Vote Pilipinas. This is a crucial step to educate voters and bring more people in to exercise their right to suffrage,” says James Jimenez, COMELEC spokesperson.
“One of the campaign’s goals is to provide every Filipino with access to the right information so they can register and ultimately vote. We hope that through the Vote Pilipinas campaign, we can shift mindsets and make people realize that every vote counts,” says Ces Rondario, Impact Hub Manila’s co-founder and the brainchild of Vote Pilipinas.
Impactful partnership sealed
Last December 4, 2020, COMELEC and Impact Hub Manila signed the Memorandum of Understanding to cement the partnership and jointly push for registrations.
In a statement to the media Impact Hub Manila and the COMELEC said they “believe in the importance of suffrage to make impactful change, especially for youth. More young people are eligible to vote in the coming national elections.”
Impact Hub Manila is part of its global network recognized by the United Nations (UN) in Geneva as a key driver in engaging communities for the achievement of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the UN. They designed the Vote Pilipinas campaign to ensure that the Philippines has strong institutions promoting peace and justice, which form the SDG 16.